Creating Jobs When You Can't Find Any: Implementation Lessons from a Self-Employment Pilot Program for the Unemployed

Creating Jobs When You Can't Find Any: Implementation Lessons from a Self-Employment Pilot Program for the Unemployed

Published: Jun 30, 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica
Associated Project

Self-Employment Training Demonstration

Time frame: 2012-2018

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration


Samia Amin

Mary Anne Anderson

Natasha Nicolai

Mikia Manley

Irma Perez-Johnson

Key Findings

Key Findings:

  • The Self-Employment Training (SET) pilot program enrolled 1,981 eligible applicants, 991 of whom were assigned to the program group to receive services. The typical program group member stayed SET for 8 months. Eighty-five percent of the assigned program participants showed up for their intake appointments, and 95 percent of SET program participants who attended their intake meeting went on to receive additional SET services beyond the intake meeting.
  • SET’s case management model for people interested in self-employment was implemented with medium fidelity to the program model. Providers were most likely to implement the intake process and monthly follow-ups with high fidelity.
  • The majority of participants received intensive and tailored services. Eighty-nine percent of program participants received technical assistance, and 49 percent received training.
  • Thirty-six percent of SET participants who completed the intake process received seed capital microgrants to support their businesses, with an average award of $986 (out of a possible $1,000).
  • The SET program team was able to leverage the existing workforce and business development infrastructure in each of the program’s sites to attract applicants and serve participants in the SET program. The team also leveraged behavioral science and user-centered design processes to attract and recruit applicants.

The Self-Employment Training (SET) pilot program was funded by the Employment Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to test and evaluate strategies to support dislocated workers who wanted to start their own businesses. Unemployed and underemployed workers who proposed businesses in their fields of expertise were eligible to participate.

Study report appendices.

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